Jeff Samardzija impresses in debut with the Athletics

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Jeff Samardzija, acquired along with Jason Hammel by the Athletics on Friday, impressed in his first start with his new team. Facing the visiting Blue Jays, the right-hander allowed only one run on four hits and a walk while striking out five en route to a win, cinching a four-game series sweep over the Jays.

Samardzija yielded the lone run in the top of the sixth when the Jays put runners on second and third with one out following a Jose Reyes single and a Munenori Kawasaki double. Melky Cabrera followed up with a run-scoring ground out to second base. That was it. Closer Sean Doolittle gave up a run on a lead-off Steve Tolleson home run in the ninth before wrapping up the save.

Mimicking the Cubs, the Athletics didn’t give Samardzija much run support, scoring once in the second inning and twice in the fourth inning. They scored again in the bottom of the eighth, but Samardzija was not the pitcher of record. Samardzija went 2-7 over 17 starts with the Cubs despite posting a 2.83 ERA because the Cubs averaged a league-low 2.28 runs of support, per ESPN. Combining¬†his time with the Cubs and Sunday’s debut with the Athletics, Samardzija is now 3-7 with a 2.74 ERA and a 108/32 K/BB ratio.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.